# Are You Taller Than a Cow Parsnip?: Measuring in Units of Nature

Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum)

I am so grateful for such a wonderful paradise on Mount Lemmon, being so close to the desert, and being surrounded by a beautiful community.  What a better place to go learn mathematics because there is math everywhere on the mountain.  What a great time to be up on Mount Lemmon and go exploring!

One of my favorite plants on the mountain is the Cow Parsnip.  These are my favorite wonders of the area!  Cow Parsnips remind me of a child where they begin as small little ones and grow above and beyond 5 feet tall, or close to it.  So I guess the big question is, are you taller than a Cow Parsnip?

What is great about being outdoors is that plants do not know what inches, centimeters, or feet are.  In Nature, there is an abundance of resources use to measure and one of these can be the Cow Parsnip of course! So go for a wonderful walk and look for one of these beauties.  Stand up next to one and measure yourself.  Who is taller, you or the Cow Parsnip?

Take the kids out for a walk and see how they measure against these wonderful giants.  Start using the words of comparison like, “shorter than”, or “taller than”.  How many of you would take to be as tall as the Cow Parsnip?  What about the blossoms?  How many blossoms would it take to be the length of your hand?  How about the width of your hand?  Take a look at those leaves!  How many of your hands would it take to be the same length, or width of those leaves?

This is cute and all, but how does learning Mathematics really measure up to the “real” world?  Take a child, for instance, maybe that child is sad because he/she hasn’t grown as tall as everyone else, but take a look at the Cow Parsnip with how small the Cow Parsnip began.  The Cow Parsnip starts out tiny and then shoots up to be taller than any other flowering plant I know.

Success can be measured using blossoms and stalks of plants, or the number of tree rings a tree can have in a lifetime.  Nature has so many opportunities where we can learn and explore in Mathematics.  What I would like everyone to get out of these posts is that the world of Mathematics encompasses more than what we can imagine.  The earlier we start our kids and grandkids in interacting and learning from Nature, the more they will have more reason to protect what is treasured by the rest of us.

# What Books Does Mom Have About Math? Here are just a few….

At our home, we have a lot of books about math.  I have been asked what books I have read or the kids used since they were little ones and even to this present day.  The best way I can do this is through photos and there will be repeats as I have taken these photos at different times.

As a note, none of the publishers, nor the authors have paid me or asked me to post these books on this blog.  These are books that we actually own, or have owned.  You do not need to get all of these books, just choose a one or a few and go from there.  Remember, checking them out in the library, borrowing them from a friend, or buying them are options.  The important thing to remember is to begin reading to your child, especially in mathematics. 🙂

copyright 2015 Learning Math with Mom

# Celebrating Autumn From Smallest to Biggest and Spiral

This kids are 1,4, and 5 at this point last. There are leaves everywhere from the Sycamore tree. So where there is nature, there is math. 🙂

This was really a great time for us to be together outside and looks for leaves.  My older ones were particular about the way the leaves looked. It took a bit of time, but it was worth it. There was a lot of comparing and contrasting to see which one was smallest to biggest, but it came naturally, as it should.

The boys were helping me put the spiral together with the leaves, but the rest of the leaves were calling out to them to play. 🙂 I finished the rest of the spiral and they did get to see that we can make art out of nature. That same day, one made a horse out of leaves, while the other one was still trying to find the smallest leaf and the perfect leaf. 🙂

What Math Concepts Were Learned?

1. Biggest to Smallest, Smallest to Biggest
2. Compare and Contrast
3. Problem Solving
4. Spatial Reasining when putting together the spiral

When Autumn comes, there is a lot to explore and play with. There are rocks, sticks, leaves, acorns, and such to compare and contrast. Then make art with it!

Remember, it is not that you get there first in learning, it is that you get there in the first place.

copyright 2015 learning math with mom

# Fruity Fractions are Healthy and Delicious!

Why not learn fractions with watermelon as well!  Watermelon is a great snack for kids and an opportunity for learning about fractions. With the last fraction activity using oranges, the whole was the whole orange.  In this case, I use a circular slice of the watermelon as a whole.  Why?  All of us need to see the whole in different ways and its parts.

At this time, my oldest was 5, second oldest was about to turn 4, and my youngest was too young to notice what we were doing, nor could eat watermelon.  Taking a slice of watermelon, I told them that this slice is the whole.  Cutting in half, I then said that this is now cut in half.  “What do you notice about the two pieces that came from the whole slice of watermelon?” “Are they the same, or different?” If cut this slice of watermelon into two pieces and give it to the both of you, would you want them to be the same or different?” “Why?”

Those are the questions, I asked and still ask when the moment presents itself.  When asking the kids questions, ask both questions that will result in a yes or no, and ask them questions that they need to explain more.  The most important thing to remember is just to ask your child questions to find out what they are thinking.

Now cut the two equal parts in half again.  How many slices of watermelon was the whole cut into?  What are they called now? Are they called halves, or something else?  Answer:  they are called fourths.  Cut each of those fourths in half and what do you get?  Answer: they are called eighths.  Why are they called eighths?  Are each of these eighths the same/equal to the other eighths?  If we put all of these eight eighths together, what do they make?  These are just a sample of questions to ask your kids.  Just be mindful of how many questions you ask before the kids’ attention span is gone.  🙂

Now eat and enjoy so they can taste the delicious mathematics they just learned!  🙂

Here are more pictures for you to use.  Print them out and use them for later to help your kids learn their fractions again.  The kids can also use the pictures to help them cut the fruit in equal pieces.

Whole- One Whole

Half- Two Halves

Fourths- Four Fourths

Eighths- Eight Eighths

Where is this in the Schedule of Activities for ages 18 months to 3 years?

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/ScheduleofActivitiesfor18mosto3yrsofage_0.pdf

1. Tuesday-Numbers

2. Wednesday-Big and Small

3. Thursday- More and Less

Where is this in the Schedule of Activities for ages 3-5?

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/CALENDAR3yearsto5yearsofagePDF_0.pdf

1. Friday- Numbers, Part/Whole, Half, Thirds

It is also good to remember that the whole does not always need to be a circle either.  Try a piece of bread and cut that into half. Talk about that and ask the kids questions about whether they think it is important for the two pieces to be the same or not.  Then cut that into fourths and eighths. What about bananas?  Talk about the whole fruit of the banana as the whole and how would they cut the whole in half?  How about fourths? How about thirds? How about fifths? What would that look like?  Fractions are our friends.  Fruity fractions are even better!

Remember, learning is not a race.  If you think it is a race, it is better to think of different ways to finish and that it is more important to get there than who gets there first.  With mathematics, it was always meant to be learned and by all.  So think of other ways you can be in the house or outside and teach your kids about fractions and the vocabulary.  You are, in fact, your child’s first teacher.

copyright 2015 learning math with mom

# Making Orange Juice Out of Fractions

In our family, we have the pleasure of receiving oranges from relatives and this makes it so much fun to show the kids how to make orange juice and learn some fractions! If you do not have oranges handy, you can always use any type of fruit because showing the kids about frations with many different types of shapes and objects can get them away from fractions as having always to do with circles.

Start by showing what is the “whole”.  With oranges, the whole orange is the “whole”. Cut this in half, into two equal parts.  Show this your child and say that each piece is a part of the whole orange and ask them whether the two parts are the same or different.  Ask your child to put the two parts together to make the whole and tell them that each part has a special name, a half.

Then cut each half into two more equal parts, fourths.  Ask your child the same question about what they notice, or see with the new parts of the whole.  Are they equal to each other?  Are they halves anymore?  How many parts are there now to the whole?  Four? Those are called fourths because there are four parts to the whole.  If you want to go further and you still have your child’s attention, cut each fourth in half.   Ask the same questions as before, but now they are eighths because there are eight equal parts to the whole orange.

Now have your orange snack and enjoy making orange juice!

Where is this in the Schedule of Activities for ages 18 months to 3 years?

Click to access ScheduleofActivitiesfor18mosto3yrsofage_0.pdf

1. Tuesday-Numbers

2. Wednesday-Big and Small

3. Thursday- More and Less

Where is this in the Schedule of Activities for ages 3-5?

Click to access CALENDAR3yearsto5yearsofagePDF_0.pdf

1. Friday- Numbers, Part/Whole, Half, Thirds

If you would like to just focus on a half of an orange, then do it. 🙂  Ask your child how many halves might it take to fill a whole cup with juice?How many halves would it take to fill a cup of juice for each family member?  If this is how many halves it took to fill a cup, how many halves will it take to fill two cups?  Begin asking those questions and manually find out the answers after they guess.

If you want to cut the pieces into eighths, then do it.  If you want to focus on sixteenths, then do it.  Make adjustments here and there because every family and child is different.  Always remember to give yourself time and your children time to do this learning.  If you only get to talk about the concept of half, great! It is not a race. It is not who gets there first in the learning, it is about getting there that is more important.  🙂

copyright 2015 learning math with mom

# Biggest to Smallest: Comparing Things from Nature in any Season! Even in Color and Shape

Autumn:

Here in the desert area, we do not normally have Autumn weather like other parts of the country during the months of September through November, but some of the trees do change color and drop their leaves. At our house, we have a tall Sycamore tree with leaves of various sizes that really should not be in the desert, but has survived all this time through tons of watering and care. So, I took this opportunity for this Autumn Season to have the boys pick up some of the fallen leaves and pick their favorites.

At this time, my boys are 4 and 3 years old. Picking up leaves, for them, is really not too much to ask for from mommy. J As we brought them in, we talked about the colors they saw on each of the leaves, counted the number of points on each leaf, and I was wondering if they would be able to choose the biggest leaf to the smallest leaf. Looking at the picture above, there are only seven leaves, which is a good number of one thing to compare for a 4 and 3-year-old. Any more than ten might be a bit much, especially if it is the afternoon before nap time.

Placing one leaf on the floor, I asked them if this was the biggest leaf. It was not. I kept asking questions and listened to what they had to say. As this kept going back and forth, back and forth, it took about five to eight minutes to get what you see on the picture. Here are questions that I asked the boys that resulted in the above picture:

1. Which one is the biggest leaf, this one, or that one? Why?
2. Which one is the next biggest leaf?
3. Which of the leaves is the smallest? How can you tell?
4. What about this leaf? Is this bigger or smaller than the first leaf on the floor? (you can overlap the leaf, one on top of the other, to see which one is bigger or smaller).
5. What if we did smallest to biggest, what would that look like?

Winter:

For the rest of the world that has a real winter, here are some ideas that you might want to take advantage of when comparing things in nature from biggest to smallest. Although most of the fallen leaves are gone or underneath snow, it would be a great time to also talk about color and why some leaves are still green and on the tree, instead of gone or brown.

1. Pinecones! If you have different conifers near you, take some fallen pine cones and compare them. Take a look at the way the pine cones are created. Do you see spirals? What shapes do you see?
2. Snowballs! Before a snowball fight, make some that are small and big and compare them.       This is a great way to start exploring 3-D shapes! What solids/3-D shapes can you make with snow and how? What 3-D shapes are easier to make than others and why?
3. Icicles! With this one, you need to be careful and very cautious because icicles can be really dangerous to be underneath. From a distance, you can compare the length of the icicles and also look at what shapes they are. This is a special treat because you can explore these from inside a warm house too!

Spring:

Spring is my all time favorite season because it is a time where everything comes back to life and it is cool and warm enough to go outside and explore! Why not look at different things outside and compare them. Make it like a scavenger hunt to find different flowers, leaves, and rocks. Then bring them all together and compare. What colors do you see? What shapes do you see?

1. Flowers
2. Green leaves
3. Vegetables in the garden
4. Plants

Summer:

This special season can be a way to get out of the heat and explore things in different parts of the country on a vacation, or even at the local zoo.   Compare things from biggest to smallest and you will find that your children will have an interesting way of thinking about what big is and small is and tall is. It also depends if something is standing upright or on the ground flat. If you can go to the zoo or look up pictures of animals, compare the size, colors, and shapes of the animals as well 🙂

1. Sea Shells
2. Flowers
3. Zoo Animals

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities from 18 months to 3 years of age?

1. Wednesday on Big and Small
2. Mondays on Shapes

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/ScheduleofActivitiesfor18mosto3yrsofage_0.pdf

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities from 3 years to 5 years of age?

1. Monday on Shapes
2. Tuesday on Measurement (if you are using a device to compare measurements, like a ruler)
3. Thursday on Geometry of 2D and 3D
4. Tuesday ( that I will soon add on Tuesdays is comparisons)

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/CALENDAR3yearsto5yearsofagePDF_0.pdf

1. Thursday on Geometry of 2Dand 3D
2. Tuesday ( that I will soon add on Tuesdays is comparing)

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/CALENDAR3yearsto5yearsofagePDF_0.pdf

Mathematics is not always learned on paper or with technology, though these things are great in their own moments. The reason why most of us explore the world of mathematics is because nature provides this outside. Nature, in every season, is a playground of math waiting to be played and explored. So, take advantage of what is outside your door. Even if it is that single tree outside, rocks, or flowers. Go outside with your kids and start asking questions. Show your kids how to look at things around them and to take notice of the math that is there. Sure, I know we need to clean the house or we are busy trying to figure out how to manage everything, but just take a moment to go outside and breathe. These moments are not only a way of learning about the mathematics, but making memories with your kids. These are priceless moments with our kids.

As an idea, even if you cannot go outside, or have a local zoo in your area, just print out the pictures in this blog or read this with your kids and start comparing; start asking questions. At least this gives you time together and gives you time to slow down and breathe, making memories. 🙂

copyright 2014 learning math with mom

# Do You Have Wrapping Paper Tubes? Paper Towels Tubes? Toilet Paper Tubes? Then Let’s Do Some Math! Shortest and Tallest, Shortest and Longest, and Everything in Between

With gift wrapping done at our house and having a family of five, we have no problem collecting paper towel tubes, wrapping paper tubes, and toilet paper tubes.  I thought this was best time to find out what they know and remember about comparing items in terms of shortest, tallest, and any height in between.  At this time, my sons are 4 and 3 years of age and my daughter is six months old.  This learning activity was done with two boys and a baby, took 15 minutes or so, and it was before bedtime.  So if this was a success with us, then just about anyone can do this at any time of day! 🙂

While my second oldest was playing, I asked my oldest which tube was the tallest out of the collection of tubes in front of him.  Then I asked him what was the second tallest. Then I switched it up and put the wrong tube after the other two and asked if this was correct.  With my oldest, this took about 1-2 minutes to complete the whole thing, resulting in what you see on the photo above.

To compare length, I asked much of the same questions about length, instead of height and he placed the tubes as you see them on the photo below.  He was done and wanted to work on the mega blocks.  This was perfect timing to get my second oldest to try this out.  Doing much of the same thing with my second oldest, he too had no problem with placing the tubes from tallest to smallest or lay them out as longest to shortest, and vice versa.  My second was having fun with this.  He wanted more!  Hmmm….Let’s tape them together to see how tall you are in cardboard tubes.

With a little painter’s tape, cardboard tubes, and my little helper, we were able to stack the tubes on top of each other to see how tall he is.  It was fun for him because he chose which tubes to use and how many of them we needed to add or take away from his creation.  He stepped back and was able to actually see how tall he really is.  A really big smile was on his face and he was happy with that.

The oldest watched what was going on and wanted to do that as well.  So he and I worked much the same way with him choosing the tubes.  We went a step further and included the mega blocks that he was playing with earlier.  Next to the tower of tubes, he stacked the mega blocks as high as his height.  He thought this was very awesome.  He then wanted to know how tall his little sister would be in mega blocks.  I placed her on the floor and spoke with her as he grabbed some mega blocks and made his creation.  It was a learning experience for both of us because once he thought he was done, she would move and I would gently stretch her out to see if the block creation was long enough.  Let me just say that there was a lot of adjusting 🙂 My second oldest came into the picture and thought this was funny and joined in on the fun.  🙂  What you see below is the height of all three kids, whether with cardboard tubes, mega blocks, or both.

An important note is that I did not make my second oldest work with the mega blocks.  This was to be a fun learning experience, especially understanding this was before bedtime. 🙂

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities from 18 months to 3 years of age?

1. Wednesday on Big and Small

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities for 3 to 5 years of age?

1. Tuesdays for Measurement

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/CALENDAR3yearsto5yearsofagePDF_0.pdf

This is perfect if you want a learning activity for your one child, or children of multiple ages.  An extension of this would be to take rulers, or tailor tape, and see how tall your child is or children are in inches, centimeters, feet, yards, etc.  You can use wooden blocks if you don’t have mega blocks, or you can even use Legos.  You can even use plastic cups, or paper cups to stack them up to see how tall your child is.  The idea is to give them as many opportunities to show height and length and also using the vocabulary.  Most importantly, remember to have fun.

Again, as a parent, we might think we need to hurry up on teaching certain things to our children so that they won’t fall behind.  This allows us to become more stressed or pressured if our children are not learning at the rate we think they should.  No worries….just breathe.  Because even reading this blog and finding out how to help your child become more successful in math, literacy, and art should tell you that you are a wonderful and caring parent.  If your child takes more time to learn concepts, it is okay.  We all learn at different times.   I will say this over and over again because it is that important to know that you are doing a great job!

copyright 2014 learning math with mom

# What is Big? What is Small? What is Short? What is Tall?

Introducing the ideas of what is big, small, short, and tall is as easy as pointing things out and describing them to your child.  Most of us are familiar with the stackable rings, or cups and can just take that off of the shelf or out of the box to start comparing.  Comparing size, as well as color, is a way to give your child the tools to use when it is time to sort.

Take out the stackable rings and cups to start using words like, “big” and “small”.   Stack some blocks of different heights and start using words like “short” and “tall”.  Do you have cereal boxes and oatmeal boxes that are shorter or taller?  Take those out and compare.  Do you go outside and walk and see bushes and trees?  Bushes are shorter than trees and trees are taller than bushes, at least where I live. 🙂

The zoo is also a wonderful place to explore the world of big and small, short and tall.  The birds are smaller than the zebras.  The giraffe is taller than the rhinosaurus.  The lions are bigger than the otters.  Comparing animals and everything else around you is a way to help your child explore the world, see the world differently, and have the words to describe what your child sees.

If you are interested in reading books about things that are big, small, short, or tall, here is just a short list you may want to look for at your local store or library:

Amazon.com Widgets

Where does this fit in the Schedule of Activities for 18 months to 3 years?

Answer:  On Wednesdays for the math topic.

Schedule of Activities for 18 months to 3 years